Imagine how infinitely long the day would feel if every breath was a struggle. If you could never fully catch your breath, and with each passing day, the difficulty worsened. Seemingly innocuous workplace conditions can contribute to such serious respiratory issues that, sadly, the right workers comp management strategies would have identified and prevented.
Are your workers protected?
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to merely look at a cloud of dust and determine if the particles within are a respiratory hazard. Many things can pose a threat, ranging from stone and concrete particulates, responsible for silicosis, to asbestos-related cancer and mesothelioma, to respiratory damage and disease from repeated exposure to chemicals.
An ounce of prevention…
Since only air sampling and lab testing can measure exposure limits, and each dust-cloud is unique, preventive techniques are integral to protecting employees, such as:
1. Eliminating or minimizing exposures.
This can be done through operational/procedural means, such as enhanced ventilation or air filtering measures, as well as through administrative control, such as through employee scheduling.
2. Personal protective equipment (PPE).
Put the right face on the problem, with the right mask for exposures faced:
- Basic, NIOSH-labeled dust masks for particulates and dust.
- Air purifying face fitting respirators, whose capacity varies by rating.
- Air supplying respirators, which provide a safe, controlled air source.
3. A culture of safety.
When PPE is required, a written respiratory protection program is a must-have, including training on the plan, proper PPE use and maintenance, PPE limitations, and a designated and qualified program administrator responsible for regular evaluation and efficacy.
Breath freely, knowing your workers comp management needs are in the right hands. Contact Minnesota Comp Advisor today.
When used for pain management in longstanding cases, the development of drug tolerance with opioid use is fairly common. How can you work with your workers comp insurance consultant to protect workers against tolerance dangers?
Know the Signs
Tolerance is a normal physiological response: The body becoming accustomed to a drug dose over time. If opioids are increased and symptoms stabilize – that's a prime indicator of drug tolerance.
Dangers of Tolerance
Dependence occurs when the body gets sick without opioids for 12 hours or more. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, irritability, and runny nose.
Once opiate tolerance develops, the likelihood of physical dependence (addiction) rises. The increased perception of pain often leads to abuse, as sufferers seek to use the drug on their own terms: (1) higher than prescribed doses, (2) dependence on its mood-altering effects, and (3) doctor shopping or gaining scripts from multiple prescribers.
The second leading cause of death in the U.S., opiate overdose is increasingly common with those who’ve developed a tolerance, particularly following periods of abstinence (such as incarceration), after which they return to their previous (but now overly high) dose. This often leads to a fatal overdose, particularly alongside alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Signs include an inebriated look, mood swings, excessive sleepiness, slow breathing, and confusion.
Tolerance is NOT a Permanent Condition
Physical tolerance only remains with continued intake of opiates. Psychological tolerance, however, is another matter, lasting many years post-addiction.
Prevent addiction and protect injured workers with the help of a workers comp insurance consultant who’s on your side. Join the team at Minnesota Comp Advisor today.
In today’s addiction-riddled, drug obsessed world, employee health management regimes continue to place opioid use for chronic, non-cancer pain (CNCP) under the microscope for efficacy. Does it really work? And if so, do benefits outweigh risks? Or are the use of these drugs merely a shot in the dark, prescribed by physicians with a lack of evidence-based alternatives?
Opioid misuse on the one hand, undertreated pain on the other
CNCP is common, affecting 10-20% of adults, particularly the elderly. There exists to-date no singly effective drug or drug group that works well for its alleviation. NSAIDs are viewed as dangerous and often avoided, other licensed medicines are prohibitively expensive, and non-drug protocols are few, with scant evidence of efficacy, leaving opioid use to soar.
Does that mean they work?
While there will be some who get demonstrable pain relief with opioids without experiencing long-term harm or side effects, evidence is weak - opioids should not be the drug of choice for chronic pain. Consideration must be given to treating pain while avoiding risks - without taking sides in the national debate. A decision to exclude them a priori would appear based on ignorance/fear - not science.
A sensible approach
The situation here is no different than in others where a small number of individuals benefit immensely but most do not – a chance for pain relief should be given - albeit at sensible dosages, and alongside non-drug options, until efficacy is verified. High-doses and long-term use must be avoided to circumvent adverse risks, allowing those who can benefit to do so.
Current employee health management tactics seem risky? Minnesota Comp Advisor can help. Contact us today.
Are you overlooking the needs of workcomp insurance pain patients? A common occurrence with chronic pain sufferers, whose pain and symptoms are mostly invisible, these individuals often feel alone and disconnected from a world in which they are constantly on the outside looking in. Coping – simply trying to get by moment-to-moment – further results in an introverted response that cuts off such sufferers from friends and loved ones even more, invoking their self-protective nature. How can you help such individuals reach out?
Five Olive Branches for Chronic Pain Sufferers:
1. Help pain sufferers feel connected by reaching out any way possible, from a quick text or social media message to more in-depth (and crucial) in-person, phone, or video-messaging conversations. Simply listening shows suffers they are not alone.
2. Be flexible, arranging both work and home-life activities around “good” and “bad” times of the day or days of the week. You’ll gain the advantages of those truly “good” moments, far lessening the stress, grief, and pressures of “forcing it” through the bad ones.
3. Help them amass a “travel triage” including heat pads, ice packs, cushions, support, or other essentials to make work and leisure activities outside the home more comfortable. (You may need to plan ahead and get creative, depending on the event.)
4. Add music to your arsenal. Though not a direct connection, music keeps spirits lifted, aids in coping, and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.
5. Let them play the “me” card, shutting out the world as necessary to manage pain needs.
Unite your workforce and bring peace and courage to workcomp insurance pain patients with these and other tips from Minnesota Comp Advisor today.
Commonly formulated for aches and pains, compound medications are really putting a strain on the workman’s compensation insurance industry. Custom-made for patients, these concoctions are increasing pharmaceutical expenditures in the workers’ comp arena nationwide, and are at the center of several high-profile fraud cases.
Feeling the burn
Ambiguous state laws and formulary guidelines are driving the trend of compounds. Taking advantage of loopholes in the system and despite a lack of evidence that such creams actually work, compounding companies are playing the numbers game. Evidence show them submitting multiple bills for large amounts in excess of $5,000, earning excess profits with a single claim approval, and costing the system millions for grossly overpriced products such as Bengay.
Playing the game
Compound drugs previously accounted for just a small percentage of workcomp spending. Prescribed in cases where patients can’t tolerate commercially prescribed medications due to allergy or limitations, they are medically proven and necessary. However with creams for pain and inflammation, minimal absorption levels negate the necessity of these drugs for the prevention of allergic reaction.
Previously a last resort, these compounds are now being exploited as an avenue for compounding pharmacies to make money, rather than as a necessary alternative. State and federal prosecutors are even finger-pointing doctors believed to have received kickbacks in exchange for compound prescriptions. In The Postal Service alone, compounds rose from 8% of prescriptions and 6% of costs in 2011, to 34% of prescriptions and 53% of costs in 2015, costing the Postal Service an average of $390,000 a day in compound drug costs.
Workman's compensation insurance costs compounding on you? Minnesota Comp Advisor has the cure. Contact us today.
When mediation attempts for solving workman's comp insurance issues between employers and injured employees fail, workman’s comp hearings offer a secondary attempt at settling injury claims. Unfortunately for those not in-the-know, the idea of these hearings can be a nerve wracking prospect.
What happens at a workman's comp insurance hearing?
During the hearing, your business, the insurance company, and the injured worker are all given the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to support their claims, presenting this evidence to a judge who will make a final determination as to the outcome of the case.
Parties attending the hearing may include:
- The judge.
- A court reporter.
- You, the employer, and your representatives.
- The claimant and lawyer (if claimant is not representing him/herself).
- The insurance company and their representatives.
- Necessary witnesses and/or medical experts.
The hearing process
- First, the injured claimant will be given the opportunity to present his/her case, including evidence, witness testimony, and relevant reports, followed by cross examination by the employer or workman’s comp insurance representatives.
- Next, your company will present its side, including rebuttals by witnesses or experts and the presentation of contradictory reports by experts and witnesses.
- After both sides have presented, the judge will bring the hearing to a close, accepting brief written summarizations of evidence presented by both parties. The judge will not make his/her final decision at the time of the hearing, but will later review the information, coming to a decision which will ultimately result in either a claim that is paid or one which is dropped.
Workman's comp insurance issues have you feeling more than a little overwhelmed? Minnesota Comp Advisor can help. Contact us today.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the danger of over-medicating following the use of notoriously unscientific “pain scales” in employee injury management is an 11. Why? The practice has been linked to injury and even death in pain patients.
How would you rate your pain?
Authors for the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma studied the use of pain scales and their correlation to the prescription of sedatives and narcotics during two separate time periods. Case reports were reviewed for 2,907 patients treated in 1994-98, and 2,282 patients treated in 2000-04. The study uncovered:
- The deaths of over 50% of patients (1,459) in the 1994-1998 group, and 37.9% of patients (867) in the 2000-04 study group, overall.
- Overmedication was clearly linked to the deaths of 13 patients in the 1994-98 study, and 32 patients in the 2000-04 study.
- Overmedication likely contributed to deaths of 5 patients in the 1994-98 study, and 14 patients in the 2000-04 study.
- Clearly linked and “likely” deaths occurred after blunt injury in 17 and 43 patients, respectively, and 1 and 3 patients, respectively, after penetrating injury.
- One patient in each period died as a result of prehospital overmedication.
- Most patients were men – 71% and 66%, respectively, with an average age of 35.
Patients were most commonly overmedicated in two situations: following discharge from ICU to the floor, and in preparation for imaging studies. Overmedication with sedatives and narcotics resulted in hypotension compromising airways. The subsequent intubation required began a series of negative events, ultimately leading to death.
Employee injury management is serious business. Ensure safe results with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.